Best Tibetan Buddhism Books
Katinka Hesselink, 2010-2017
Tibetan Buddhism is perhaps the best known type of Buddhism today, thanks to the Dalai Lama. I've found you the ten best and most popular books to get you started on understanding the tradition. From the Tibetan book of the Dead, to the Dalai Lama and Pema Chodron. From the mystery of Tibet as a holy land, to the practices, rituals and philosophy of this inspiring brand of Buddhism.
The Tibetan Book of the Dead
What's known as 'The Tibetan Book of the Dead' in the west, is really the 'Bardo Thodol', or the 'The Liberation Through Hearing During The Intermediate State'. The idea is that the person who died is in 'the intermediate state' - aka a bardo - and through hearing the text, will become enlightened and avoid having to reincarnate.
The text is also read to the dying, so they will be prepared for what's waiting for them on the other side.
The Tibetan Book of the Dead: The Great Book of Natural Liberation Through Understanding in the Between
Robert Thurman (Translator), The Dalai Lama (Foreword), Karma Lingpa (Collaborator) - THE TIBETAN BOOK OF THE DEAD (The Great Book of Natural Liberation Through
Robert Thurman is one of the most prominent Western scholars of Tibetan Buddhism today and a personal student of H.H. the Dalai Lama.
Graham Coleman (editor), Thupten Jinpa (Editor), Gyurme Dor (Translator), Dalai Lama (commentary)
Francesca Fremantle (Translator), Chogyam Trungpa (Translator)
There is an audio-version by Richard Gere (a student of the Dalai Lama himself), which is all the more special.
The Tibetan Book of the Dead: Or the After-Death Experiences on the Bardo Plane, according to Lama Kazi Dawa-Samdup's English Rendering
Dr. Evans-Wentz, who literally sat at the feet of a Tibetan lama for years in order to acquire his wisdom...not only displays a deeply sympathetic interest in those esoteric doctrines so characteristic of the genius of the East, but likewise possesses the rare faculty of making them more or less intelligible to the layman.
For a long thime this was THE translation of the Tibetan Book of the Dead, because it was the first. It was the reason the Tibetan is usually translated as 'The Tibetan Book of the Dead', inspired by the Egyptian Book of the Dead.
This is, for instance, the translation that inspired Jung.
Introduction into Tibetan Buddhism
By John PowersIn this concise though comprehensive work, Powers, a Tibetan Buddhist and professor of religion at Wright State University, begins to fill a void in the large corpus of literature on Tibetan Buddhism by grounding it in political and cultural experience.
He puts Tibetan Buddhist practice in the context of its own religious history as well as Tibetan political and cultural history. He discusses the festivals, holy days and religious symbolism of Tibetan cultural forms and of the power struggles and foreign influences that contributed to the institution of the Buddhist state.
He demystify Tibetan Buddhism, yet leaves intact the integrity of its practice. This is a valuable work for those looking to enrich their practice of Tibetan Buddhism and for students just seeking to deepen their understanding of it.
Includes a clear explanation of each of the four schools: Nyingma, Kagyu, Sakya, and Gelug.
My Journey to Lhasa: The Classic Story of the Only Western Woman Who Succeeded in Entering the Forbidden City
By Alexandra David-neel
By H.H. The Dalai Lama
The Dalai Lama is that unique mix of a spiritual teacher and a political leader. Unlike the Pope he is virtually uncontested as a spiritual inspiration.
Buddhist practice: reaching enlightenment, peace and happiness
The above are all books with either a historical or a textual focus. They may be written by Tibetan Buddhists, but their aim is not so much to help us on the spiritual path, as it is to inform.
The books below are different: they ARE meant to help you become a Tibetan Buddhist practitioner, fully awake, if they can help it.
Again by Robert Thurman
This book is a modified retreat transcript, so it has the strengths of an experiential emphasis. But it also is intelligent and quite readable. Thurman covers the entire scope of the Buddhist path from a Tibetan perspective, and he does this in the order that one would learn and practice these teachings developmentally. The reader is invited regularly to participate in the meditations along the way and to adapt them to his or her own religious background. But the book is also a lively guided tour with a number of brief visits to important teachings.So it progressively maps and highlights a path that actually takes years to experience. This is a classic approach, called Lam-Rim in Tibetan, that Bob Thurman makes accessible, even for beginners.
Perhaps the most popular woman spiritual teacher today, Pema Chodron is even more of a towering figure in Tibetan Buddhism. This is her most popular book, and it really brings Buddhism home to us as an introduction into a spiritual path that we can practice right here, right now.
Famously recommended by Oprah Winfrey
The title speaks for itself: the best introduction into the teachings of Pema Chodron, the Tibetan Buddhist nun.
More books by Pema Chodron:
My personal reviews of Tibetan Buddhist Books
- Wisdom of the Kadam Masters & Kadampa Teachings
- Dakini Power: Twelve Extraordinary Women Shaping the Transmission of Tibetan Buddhism in the West
- HH the Dalai Lama, Beyond Religion: Ethics for a Whole World
- The Power of an Open Question: The Buddha’s Path to Freedom
- Guided meditations on the Stages of the Path, Thubten Chodron > A Lam Rim Meditation Book
- When the chocolate runs out, Lama Yeshe
- Work, Sex, Money: real life on the path of mindfulness, Chogyam Trungpa
- Rebel Buddha: on the road to freedom
- Goddesses of the celestial gallery, Romio Shrestha